World Orders…

by | Mar 16, 2007

Two curious – and contrasting – articles on the international system.

In Foreign Affairs, Daniel Drezner argues that – despite outward signs of unilateralism – the Bush administration has been busy creating a ‘new new world order’.

While we’ve been dozing, it seems, the US government has been ambitiously reshaping global institutions to bring India and China ‘into the concert of great powers’ – with the Europeans as the main blocking vote:

“Power is a zero-sum game, and so any attempt to boost the standing of China, India, and other rising states within international organizations will cost other countries some of their influence in those forums. These prospective losers can be expected to stall or sabotage attempts at reform.

Although European countries are still significant, their economic and demographic growth does not match that of either the emerging powers or the United States. Having been endowed with privileged positions in many key postwar institutions, European countries stand to lose the most in a redistribution of power favoring countries on the Pacific Rim.”

Even on climate, Bush in the lead – with the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate having greater potential impact than Kyoto. (A Bush official recently tried to convince me that the President was a ‘thought leader’ on global warming.)

In Washington Monthly, meanwhile, Michael Hirsch believes that the Bush administration – ‘choked on ideology’ – has done its best to destroy international institutions. The big mistake, he argues, was thinking there was anything wrong with the system in the first place.

“It may be that what is most broken today is not the international system, but American stewardship of it. And that, at this pivotal moment for the nation and its place in the world, what’s needed is not an entirely new vision but, rather, something simpler: a bit of faith. Faith that with time, committed diplomacy, and—perhaps most important—some basic good judgment about the use of American force, the essential framework of international relations that got us through the cold war—and that almost any president other than Bush would also have applied to the war on terror—can be repaired”


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

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